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When Blogging is Threatened: Losing a Finger

Lorelle tries to cut her thumb off - bandaged thumb against laptop keyboardNo, I didn’t lose a finger. I’ve lost the use of a finger. Temporarily. This is the second time is a little over a year that I’ve tried to cut off one of my digits with a knife. Must be that time of life for me.

A year ago, I had a run-in with a carpet knife and tried a new look with six fingers (didn’t work) by bisecting my pinky on my left hand. Too many hours in a nasty emergency room in Mobile, Alabama, and a bunch of stitches, gave me a new perspective on the American Health Care System, fresh from my return back to the United States: It sucks.

The finger is still healing as nerves keep sending lightning bolts across complete numbness. The doctors tell me it will either do that for the rest of my life, or settle down. I might get feeling back in that finger, or nothing, too. It’s very strange touching yourself with something that doesn’t touch back.

A couple nights ago I was cleaning up after fixing another fabulous Chicken Tagine cooking feast for family coming over the next day for lunch, and I decided to run my mother’s super sharp new Cuisine Art knife across my right thumb. If it weren’t for the fingernail, I’d be missing a good 2 or 3 cm of my thumb. Over an hour later I discovered that I’d also somehow sliced my middle finger, a dangerous one to risk harming. With all the blood from my thumb, we couldn’t tell until it was all cleaned off. It was nasty but superficial and didn’t require any critical care.

So now I’m a hampered blogger again. I had no idea last year how much I depended upon my pinkies for typing. On the left side, I use the pinky for all my tabs, shifts, CTRL, ESC, and a few letters. I’ve got almost full motion back in my pinky, but the thumb is really a mess. And crucial. It’s my main space bar button finger.

That’s all it does. It does the work of both hands to handle the space bar, the thing that separates every word I type. I use it constantly, unlike the pinky buttons, and now it is crippled for a few weeks.

I tried putting a padded bandage on, but the cut is where I smack down on the space bar. Too painful. In a few more days, it might be better.

The Issues of Being Handicapped

I’ve long been an advocate for the disabled, from blind and visually impaired to mentally and physically challenged. When web pages came into being, I was right there, excited about this fascinating medium opening up a whole new way of communicating and sharing information, especially for the disabled.

Becoming disabled yourself, be it temporarily or permanently, gives you a new perspective on what the web and computer can do, and not do, for you.

Stuck at home “resting” for a few days, I have a whole world of Internet entertainment to explore. I’m not doing much else, so why not do some time wasting?

I grab the mouse and start to move it and OW! Okay, so I have to push it around with my fingers and palm without using my thumb. My thumb buttons, invaluable to the power surfer, are now useless to me. I can’t use any other finger to poke at them as it just shoves the mouse around. It’s a right-handed mouse, so switching hands doesn’t help. Crap!

I poke at a few blogs, my right arm cramping from the awkward positioning of my hand on the mouse, thumb out, and find something I want to comment on. It takes me ages to figure out how to use my left hand to hit the space bar and now I’m typing like a 5 year old. Oh, hell, a five year old can do better than this!

I finally put a ball of folded gauze over the mouse so I can rest my thumb outward instead of holding it up. This is much better. I start to relax, poking around more, and decide to focus on reading not typing. Then I hit my outstretched thumb on the side of my laptop. YOWL!

You can tell that this takes a while to get all the bugs figured out.

Which brings me to the reality of the web. So many of us fought for accessibility in web page design, and the development of accessibility-enabled software tools and hardware to help the blind, handicapped, and finger-unabled to use the web. Where are these tools? And why aren’t they available to everyone, not just the disabled? Are they still too expensive? What happened to them?

How come I’m not talking to my computer and making it work for me, asking intelligent, logical questions and having it spit out answers for me? Why am I still poking half-handed at this stupid keyboard and mouse, new and improved but still the same stupid technology from over 20 years ago.

Star Trek had people taking into computers in 1965. We didn’t even have computers around us back then. Now we do. How long before I can ask it an intelligent question and get an intelligent answer back? Huh? Huh?

When Blogging is Threatened

Okay, so I’m stuck with 1980s technology on a brand new state-of-the-art (ha!) laptop. Let’s talk about what happens when your blogging is threatened.

I’m one-and-a-half-handing it here, crippled from my normal high speed typing technique, trying to convey my frustration at typing and communicating through my computer to you. Yet the urge to spell this out for you in my blog wins out over the OW! Ouch! EEK! pain of avoiding interaction between my thumb and the space bar with every word, and losing the battle.

The urge to blog is there, but don’t expect any great missives to come spewing out over the next couple weeks. I have to pack up my life-on-the-road-for-the-past-3-months and fly back home to hubby and Hurricane Alley (just in time for hurricane season! Wee!) and work right up to the last minute of the flight with only nine active fingers.

I have heard a lot of reasons for people to blog, and a lot of reasons for people not to blog. They get bored, frustrated, feel no one cares, no one is reading, or just bored with the topic they are writing about. They run out of stories, ideas, and enthusiasm. These feelings happen to everyone. If you are serious about blogging, you just pass through it and keep blogging. Fake it until you make it.

But when there is a life event that threatens your passion, desire, and ability to blog, then what?

Many have heard that Scoble is taking a week off from blogging to handle his personal affairs and do some “thinking” as he deals with his mother’s death. How he’s continued blogging throughout this trauma has been amazing, and courageous, but now, he needs the time and we, his fans, owe him the time. We will be waiting for him when he comes back, and support him in whatever decisions he makes.

I recently blogged about the burnout and problems of offering WordPress Themes and Plugins and not being able to continue to support them. It’s a hard thing to back out and step down, but it is a choice. Stepping away from providing support for your products and services, free or not, is not much different from stepping away from blogging.

I’m not crippled for life, by any means. I’m just down for the count. But I know that once you stop, even if to slow down for a bit, the old adage takes over: energy begets energy, lazy begets lazy.

I recently met a fabulous blogger who talked to me about changing over to WordPress. She said her reasons for sticking with a blogging tool that totally out of date is due to “perpetual inertia”.

Fabulous. That is exactly what happens.

A planned vacation or time off sends a message to your brain that it isn’t finished with business but it just is taking some time off. Unplanned time off doesn’t send the same message to the brain. It says, “Oh. We’re not doing that today. Or the next day. Today? Well, no. Guess not. Today? Maybe? Well, maybe not.” Inertia kicks in and the cycle begins and lazy begets lazy begets lazy.

Enthusiasm wanes and it gets harder and harder to come back. Excuses, justifications, all kinds of reasons to NOT blog start creeping into your daily thoughts.

I’ll make it through, but what about you? When life or physical challenges (or pain) gets in the way of your blogging, how do you deal with it? Do you make a plan or take things “day by day”? Is blogging that important to you, or could you leave it in a heart beat? What keeps you going and what would keep you going if you had to walk (or limp) away for a few days or weeks? And how would you handle it?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen


  1. Posted September 1, 2006 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I know this is a relatively old entry, but don’t be so quick to embrace the notion of a talking computer either. As a deaf individual, I absolutely loathe the idea that I might have to someday start talking (and listening) to the computer. I’m also pretty sure there’s plenty of occasions where even hearing folks won’t want to be talking aloud to their computers, especially in public places with a laptop.

    The real key is not to lock the interface into any particular mode, whether it be verbal, visual, or something else.

  2. Posted February 11, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Next time perhaps post an audio recording instead of still painfully
    typing in a blog post. Or make a mini post saying that you have voice
    recorded your thoughts and will type them in when you recover.

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